Effectively speaking in public is a really important skill. It can help you get ahead both at work and in life. Since one of the missions of WIN (Women in NetSuite) is providing education, it made perfect sense to have an interactive session with speaking trainer and coach Glenna Griffin for the second meeting in our “Getting a Seat at the Table Breakfast” series. Along with a fabulous breakfast from Foster’s, we received a lot of food for thought from Glenna that I’d like to pass along.
Glenna started us off with an exercise. We had to shut our eyes and not ask any questions. We were supposed to follow her directions for folding and tearing a piece of paper. When we opened our eyes and looked at how differently each of us had interpreted her instructions, it made us think about how not being able to visually follow along or ask questions were such significant barriers to effective communication.
While we may not directly tell our audience to follow such instructions when we present, how we communicate may actually be sending those messages anyway. Glenna shared a study that indicated 55% of how effectively you communicate is based on your body language. She had us all stand up and then pointed out the good and the not so good ways we were standing. You want to stand with your feet hip-width apart, motioning with your arms at chest level or higher. Don’t stand with your feet too far apart or closed off with your arms folded.
She showed us how important it is to only speak when you are looking at a set of eyes. In other words, don’t look over people’s heads or speak to the white board, with your back to the audience. And absolutely do not back away from your audience while you are speaking. It really undermines your message.
Let me pause here before I give you one final suggestion we learned from Glenna. Always remember to pause. The pause transforms your presentation. If you don’t pause, you’ll speak too quickly. Pausing allows you to think and allows the listener to catch up. Studies show that the listener is listening half as fast as you are speaking, so people only remember about half of what they hear.
I enjoyed learning new public speaking skills that I can apply to my career, and I really appreciate that these educational opportunities are part of our company culture. I can’t wait for our next meeting!
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